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With 30 billion riding,Aishwarya brand going strong

With 300 crore riding on Aishwarya’s shoulders this year,the actress takes high expectations in her stride.

Written by Geety Sahgal | Mumbai |
October 2, 2010 10:01:46 am

This Friday,Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was seen in Robot,India’s most expensive sci-fi film by South director Shankar defying a film custom that married actresses are not for mega-budget projects. In fact the actress is playing varied and intriguing parts in four mega-budget films. The 100 crore Raavan,which released in June,Robot,and Action Replayy and Guzaarish,which will release later this year with a total budget of around 40-50 crore each,if not more. The Aishwarya brand could not have got bigger.

Putting the failure of Raavan behind her,the actress is in a buoyant mood. Dressed in a simple white top and jeggings,her shoulder-length hair a light-brown shade,the actress started off the day revealing the first look of Guzaarish,which she described as a beautiful piece of cinema,and then promoted Robot.

Raavan,Robot,Action Replayy and Guzaarish,does it make you nervous that you are part of four of the most hi-profile and mega-budget films of this year?
I don’t see the budget when I sign a film. Some movies just happen to have a big budget. What attracts me to a project is the director,the story and my character. Big or small,I am equally excited or nervous during the release.

Do you see yourself in any specific roles today?
We are as old or young as the director envisions us and thankfully I freed myself from the conventional heroine tag in the beginning of my career and my directors gave me a good choice. When I did Iruvar I didn’t say,“Give me four songs,it’s my launch”. In Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam,which I did in the early stages of my career,I played a married woman. I am an open-minded actor and never shirked from playing any role that I liked since the beginning. I experimented with roles then and I am experimenting with roles now.

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It’s the first time you worked with Rajinikant. What was that one thing which struck you about him?
I had seen and read about Rajinikant’s work and have enjoyed his full-on entertainment. But what struck me and I found amazing was the simple manner he goes about his work. In fact,Rajinikant goes beyond all age perimeters and continues to re-establish himself as Robot will prove. His role was extremely demanding and involved altogether another level of commitment. Extremely humble,he never once cribbed about the long hours he had to spend for the technical detailing. I worked on Raavan,Action Replayy and Guzaarish during the two years Robot was being made. He only worked in Robot. It was an honour to work with him.

You worked in Shankar’s Jeans and now Robot.What change did you notice in him after more than a decade?
I can’t graph my teacher’s growth. But I remember him as an extremely calm,detailed and organised person and he is the same even today. Shankar’s strong point is that he’s highly entertaining. He tells a story and introduces so much more visually and technically and at the same time keeps the common man’s interest in mind. He focusses on how to entertain the viewer in the best possible way. I was young then and we were discovering each other but I found him very child-like. He’s the same now,getting completely lost when he watches a scene on a monitor. And like always,thinks ahead of his time.

What is your character in Robot?
Today theatre promos and other promotions give a glimpse of the film,so I don’t like to reveal too much. All I can say is that Sana,my character,is a student of medicine. She is a live wire and dances and romances like a typical Hindi film heroine. She’s a character I have never played before.

How was it working in a sci-fi film like Robot?
I was introduced to technology while working in Jeans as the film brought in a lot of technical stuff like multiple imaging. But the creative boundaries have been pushed with Robot as it has many more layers than Jeans.

Were you at any time fascinated by robots?
Hmmmm! You know,as children we all have a specific image of robots in our minds from what we read and see at toy stores. But it’s wonderful when a film makes a robot appear fascinating. Now we have to see if the audience accepts it.

How do you look back at your association with Tamil cinema?
I love working in Tamil films. Iruvar,Jeans,Kandukondain Kondukondain,Raavan and now Robot. In fact,I am more at ease with the language now,and Rajini would ask ‘Tum Tamil ho?’ after every shot. But still I will not risk breaking into a conversation as my grammar is weak. If I could I would have worked in more films as I am treated very well there.

Raavan,your first release this year,did not fare very well at the box-office.
Everyone works hard on a film and likes to be appreciated for their efforts and it’s disappointing when it fails. All we can do is strive to do better next time. The important part is to make that effort. I’ve been fortunate that my career is not chartered by the box-office. And I am very proud of every film that I have done.

Did you change your approach to your career after marriage?
I never thought that now I must do more mature roles or not do certain roles. And I tackled my roles the same way. That’s the mind-set I had in the beginning of my career. And today so many actors work post marriage. You just continue working in your chosen career. But having said that,there have to be directors who want to work with me. I remember Ashutosh Gowariker first put my name as Aishwarya Rai,then Aishwarya Rai Bachchan during Jodha Akbar. He said he worked with both .

Is there any director you would like to work with?
There are so many I haven’t worked with. But irrespective of the director,I will always consider myself a student on the set to deliver what the director instructs.

And did you learn to flip sunglasses and cigarettes Rajini style?
No,I didn’t,but I got to see him do it ‘live’ and it was a jaw-dropping experience.

What about your other film Guzaarish?
I always tell everyone that Guzaarish is a beautiful piece of cinema. Something all the actors and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali worked tirelessly for. It’s a special film.

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